16 Vintage Halloween Treats That Never Get Old
This year, impress your crew with old-school Halloween goodies steeped in history and childhood nostalgia. Don't hesitate, however, to serve these retro desserts right alongside newer favorites like our Flayed Man Cheese Ball, Spooky Witches' Fingers, and Bloody Baked Rats. It's Halloween for fright's sake.
Caramel Popcorn Balls
Corn as a foodstuff dates back thousands of years, but the history of the popcorn ball is a little harder to verify. One fanciful story traces the origin story of popcorn balls to a perfect storm involving a hot Nebraska cornfield, a rain-soaked sticky sorghum field, and a tornado. What we do know for sure is that a recipe for Pop Corn Balls appeared in E.F. Haskell's Housekeeper's Encyclopedia in 1861.
Rocky Road Popcorn Balls
According to food lore, "rocky road" as a dessert name dates back to 1853 when Australian merchants needed to come up with a way to repackage and market candies that didn't quite survive the long journey overseas from Europe.
Here, two old-time treats meet up in one Halloween delight. "I made these fun treats for my boys and am now making them for the grandkids. Great any time of the year, but especially good at Halloween for trick-or-treaters. A combination of rocky road candy and sweet popcorn rolled into a ball." —SweetBasil
The official origin story of caramel apples is that a Kraft Foods salesman named Dan Walker came up with apples dipped in melted caramel back in the 1950s when he was trying to use up some extra caramel stock after Halloween. Dentists have blessed or cursed him ever since.
Gourmet Caramel Apples
If you want to honor tradition, take a cue from reviewer Lola. "I didn't use the microwave for anything in this recipe. Instead, I did it the old-fashioned way. Over a double boiler on the stove. I can control the temp of the candies that way. I also put the apples in the fridge for about 30 minutes in between each application of candy. This chilled the apples so dipping wouldn't create a big blobby mess of caramel and chocolate," she says.
Officially dating back to 1939, this combination of marshmallows, crisp rice cereal, and butter was invented by Kellogg's employees Mildred Day and Malitta Jensen. Yes, you can cut them into crispy, sticky beige squares as originally intended. But you can also add color and bend this highly malleable mixture to your creative will.
Crispy Rice Candy Corn Treats
Crispy rice treats also make the perfect base to customize with your favorite candy. We can't think of a more classic choice for Halloween than candy corn, which dates back to the 1880s.
Seasoned Pumpkin Seeds
Ancient native cultures in the Americas consumed nutrient-dense pumpkin seeds both raw and roasted, as far back as 10,000 years ago. There's no evidence that they sprinkled them with sugar and cinnamon, though.
Honey Pumpkin Seeds
Coated in butter, honey, and sugar, these crunchy pumpkin seeds could pass for candy!
The tradition of eating spiced soul cakes on All Hallow's Eve dates back to the Middle Ages. Children would go door to door singing a ritual song in honor of the dearly departed, and collecting small, spiced cakes to eat.
Sweet Potato Cake
"I made this cake twice, and each time the people I served it to said it was delicious and moist," home cook Brooklyn says. Reviewers compare its taste to carrot cake.
Hoot Owl Cookies
"This recipe has been around since the 60s. My mom made them for us every fall," reviewer Carolyn says. "My favorite thing about them: When they bake, they all take on different personalities!"
If you don't have time to bake cookies from scratch, this recipe calls for sugar cookie mix. Cashew beaks and M&M eyes give these Owl Cookies their character.
Pumpkin Cake I
Pumpkin spice may have become an ultra-popular flavor in the 2010s, but the blend of spices dates to 1934 when McCormick began producing it with pumpkin pie in mind. The flavor has since inspired tons of recipes. Bake our Pumpkin Cake I in a bundt pan for vintage charm.
Vintage Halloween treats weren't too frightening, and perhaps no cake looks friendlier than one decorated like a smiling jack-o'-lantern. Take this retro design for inspiration when you're baking a pumpkin spice cake.
Royal Icing I
Classic sugar cookies remind us of childhood. You can even find vintage cookie cutters for sale online to take the nostalgia up a notch.
Royal Icing II
You don't need anything special to create sugar cookies! With a triangular cookie cutter and food coloring, you can create candy corn sugar cookies with old-school flair.